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European Capitals Travel Guide

Europe Travel Guide

Before you set off on your vacation around some of Europe’s most iconic and attractive destinations, you may want to familiarize yourself with a few practicalities. 

From which currency you’ll need to purchase in each country through to any numbers you might need to know in an emergency, our Europe travel guide is packed with useful information to help prepare you for your trip.  

Amsterdam city - Europe travel Guide
Amsterdam at dusk
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Visa application

Visa and Entry

If you’re vacationing in Europe sometime soon, you’ll find 26 of the region’s countries are within the Schengen Area, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Netherlands. Depending on where you’re coming from, you may not need a visa to enter or travel between these nations. United States and Canadian citizens are included in those who will not need a visa to visit the Schengen Area. US citizens do not need a visa to enter the UK & Ireland.

You need a visa to enter Russia no matter the length or purpose of your visit. Citizens of some EU nations, except the UK, can apply for a visa through a quick and easy process online for free. Citizens of UK, Canada and USA need a letter of invitation from a tourism company or Russian resident in order to apply for a visa at the Russian Embassy.

Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the proposed date of your departure no matter where you choose to travel in Europe.

For more information, visit the US Department of State website.

Euro currency, coins and banknotes, Germany

Cash and Currency

Many countries in Europe use Euros (EUR) as their official currency, including Austria and the Netherlands. You can buy Euros from money exchanges in most cities, large towns and at airports. Credit cards are also widely accepted, although there may be an exchange rate fee or foreign transaction charge.

If your trip includes a visit to Hungary, note that Euros aren’t widely accepted there. Instead, exchange your money for Hungarian Forint (HUF) once you arrive. HUF bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000. 

Similarly, the Czech Republic has its own currency, the Czech Crown (CZK) which is issued in 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 denominations. You may find that some hotels, restaurants and attractions will accept Euros, however it’s worth having some CZK just in case.

The UK’s official currency is the Pound Sterling (£), and the exchange rate fluctuates daily. While Northern Ireland used the same currency, the Republic of Ireland uses the Euro.

The official currency of Russia is the Ruble, which replaced the Soviet Ruble in 1991.

USA travel guide - language

Languages

Every country in Europe has its own official language that is spoken by the majority of its people. In most countries, English is part of the official curriculum and in major cities that receive a lot of tourists, you will find that most people speak English and many signs are also in English.

It’s well-worth learning a few key phrases for each one you visit or purchasing a phrasebook. If you are traveling outside the cities, there are fewer chances of meeting English-speaking people. In some countries such as Russia, the sign boards are in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Medicines

Health Information

While the majority of the countries in Europe are considered safe to visit and have no major infectious diseases to worry about, it’s still worth knowing how to contact their emergency services in case you become ill or are involved in an accident. 

The European emergency number is 112 and this can be used to contact the police, fire department or ambulance services of every country within the European Union, in addition to a few non-member states. 

Vaccinations 

Regardless of where you’re vacationing, it’s best to refresh any out of date routine vaccinations at least a month before you fly. If you take any regular medication, make sure you take more than enough to cover your trip just in case anything delays your return.

Germany Tour Vintage retro glass jar with hemp rope tie tip box tag and few coins inside on wood counter

Tipping

Tipping for good service in a restaurant, hotel or bar is entirely at your own discretion in most European cities. Most workers earn decent wages and don’t rely on tips for income.

Service charge is often added automatically, so you may not want to pay any extra on top of it unless you’ve had an exceptional experience. If you would like to tip, between 5% and 15% of your final bill is acceptable and it’s best to leave it in cash rather than paying by credit or debit card. 

Are you planning a tour of Europe? Get in touch with us for expert advice and an obligation-free itinerary tailored to your interests.

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